Cut in tobacco usage linked with high cigarette prices

ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan has witnessed 18 percent decrease in cigarettes consumption following the remarkable increase in cigarettes prices, reveals a survey recently conducted by the Islamabad’s Centre for Research and Dialogue (CRD).

This success highlights the effectiveness of high tobacco taxes, a strategy backed by the World Health Organisation.

The survey found a marked decrease in cigarette consumption, with 15 percent of respondents reporting they cut back due to higher prices of cigarettes.

It’s important to note that Pakistan’s total consumption, ranging from 72 to 80 billion sticks a year, includes taxed, smuggled and untaxed products.

The survey mentioned while these results are promising, Pakistan still has some of the world’s cheapest cigarettes. This gap highlights the need for further tax increases to effectively curb smoking.

Director of CRD, Maryam Gul Tahir, urged the government to build on these gains and continue raising cigarette prices to maintain the decline in smoking. “Pakistan has a long way to go in tobacco taxation,” she emphasised. “Public health must be prioritised over industry interests,” she said.

The CRD survey said as Pakistan moves forward, evidence-based policies promoting public health and fiscal responsibility have become crucial while building on this momentum can lead to a healthier and more prosperous Pakistan.

The World Bank recommends a uniform tax structure for all tobacco products to further reduce consumption and boost government revenue. Their estimates suggest a significant revenue increase (0.4% of GDP) if the current tax rate on premium cigarettes is applied to standard cigarettes as well.

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